Stowe officials voice power concerns

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(Host) Officials in the resort town of Stowe have told developers that they may not get the electricity they need to serve new projects.

The warning comes as hearings begin this week on a new transmission line designed to fix the regional power shortage.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) For years, the Lamoille County area has faced an electric transmission bottleneck. But with development booming in Stowe, and a new power line project at least a year away, the shortage is now affecting new projects.

Allan Coppock is chairman of the town’s development review board. He says the board heard from the Stowe Electric Department that it couldn’t guarantee electric service to new development beyond 2006. So Coppock says the board has been forced to tell developers that they can’t build on their land until the town gets more electricity.

(Coppock) “Our feeling was we would be remiss in our review if we were to grant unconditional subdivision approval having had the testimony that we did from Stowe Electric as to their very limited ability at the moment to provide additional power.”

(Dillon) In two cases so far, the development review board has granted conditional approval for new subdivisions. That is, the developer is allowed to go ahead with infrastructure improvements, such as new roads or sewer lines, but not build anything that would add to the electric load.

Coppock says the concern is that new projects could put stress on the entire transmission system.

(Coppock) ” And the problem that we see in looking at that is were we to grant Mr. Smith’s approval for his new subdivision, and while it’s never easy to see which piece it is that causes a failure, it’s not just Mr. Smith that goes dark. It’s everybody that goes dark.”

(Dillon) On Wednesday, the Public Service Board will begin hearings on a new $20 million dollar transmission line to serve the region.

Landowners along the route have raised concerns about aesthetics, and the possible health impacts of transmission lines.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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